Kathleen Wynne, MPP for Don Valley West, has issued the following statement:
Today Minister Lecce made an announcement about supports for mental health and technology resources in publicly funded schools. There was some new money in the announcement but of the $230 million announced, over $200 million was not new money.
$15 million for mental health supports and $15 million for tech supports for boards sound like big numbers until we remember that there are 72 school boards in Ontario and nearly 5000 schools and all of a sudden, that doesn’t look like enough money to make a real difference—especially given the fact that we have two million children in Ontario who will have been out of school for six months by September and many, many of them and their teachers and support staff will need mental health support as they make the transition back to school.
But that sleight-of-hand around money is not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that it is still so unclear how this government is actually developing their school re-opening plan. Who is the Minister actually talking to? Why are the leaders of teacher and support staff organizations not a formal part of the consultation? Who is formally part of the process?
He claims that he is speaking to federation reps, frontline workers, medical specialists and that’s all good but why is there no transparency into this process? Is the report released by SickKids hospital the blueprint that the government will use? If so, what input did educators have into that report?
Any successful plan for re-opening schools will have to be the product of a strong collaboration among all of the partners and their leadership. If the health, safety, academic, social and psychological needs of students are to be served in September, the time to get the plan right is now.